Queen’s Speech: Schools will be forced to promote National Citizen Service

Secondary schools will be forced to promote the National Citizen Service under new legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech.

A new “statutory footing” for the service, first launched by David Cameron in 2010 and which combines residential trips and voluntary work during the school holidays for 16 and 17-year-olds, was one of the key announcements in this morning’s speech by the Queen setting out the government’s legislative agenda for the next 12 months.

A bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament which will place a duty on all secondary schools, sixth form colleges and independent schools to promote the national service to all young people and their parents. A similar duty will also be placed on councils.

The education secretary will have a legal duty to report annually on how well the service is being promoted.

It is not yet known how schools will be penalised if they fail to tell their pupils about the service, but such details are expected to be set out in the bill.

The announcement follows a commitment made by the prime minister in 2014 that the service would offer a place to any teenager who wants one. It is hoped the new legislation will strengthen the links between young people, their schools and the government.

According to the government, more than 200,000 young people have taken part in activities organised by the service since its launch. More than 20 per cent of those who have taken part are eligible for free school meals and 27 per cent are from non-white backgrounds.

Plans for an education for all bill, which will introduce a national funding formula and give the government powers to force schools in areas where the local council is considered to be “under-performing or un-viable”, were also announced.

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  1. Alastair Thomson

    Nothing will change.

    I’m reminded of the Learning and Skills Act 2000. Many of us who lobbied hard thought clause 4 (which sought to promote lifelong learning and placed a statutory duty on the new new the Learning & Skills Council quango) would work.

    It didn’t.

    The law said it:

    ” must— (a)encourage individuals to undergo post-16 education and training;

    (b)encourage employers to participate in the provision of post-16 education and training;

    (c)encourage employers to contribute to the costs of post-16 education and training.”

    It did nothing of the sort. Unless sanctions for ignoring the law are there (even if only from OFSTED) nothing will happen.

    (This is quite separate from whether a National Citizens’ Service is a good idea. On balance it probably is but I’m unconvinced that this should be written into law (even if as a Schedule to the Bill or a Statutory Instrument).

  2. Interesting considering at the Careers and Enterprise Company conference last week, Nicky Morgan said:-

    ‘I’m particularly pleased that The Careers & Enterprise Company is working closely with the government’s flagship National Citizen Service programme to look at the ways young people participating in it can benefit from engagement with employers and other organisations.”

    Joined up thinking by the DFE? One really couldn’t say

  3. Andrew Stanley

    The administration of the scheme is so haphazard and bureaucratic that I suspect many kids and parents give up on it. It is absolutely terrible. Personally I’d tell kids not to bother and do something else, if they want to volunteer.

    • Fiona Wallace

      Do you actually know anyone who went on the programme? My sister went on it a couple of years ago and had a brilliant time. She used it in her personal statement for university and continued volunteering for the care home she’d visited while on the programme right up until she went off to uni.

      It’s a shame if you’ve had a bad experience because all my sister ever says was how great it was.